Worrying Drop in Construction Site Inspections

Worrying Drop in Construction Site Inspections

01st April 2016

The construction industry workers’ union, UCATT (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians) has identified a worrying trend concerning the number of inspections that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carries out on construction sites here in the UK.  After making a Freedom of Information request to discover the number of unannounced (proactive) constructions inspections for the 2014-15, it was revealed that the numbers were reduced by 8.7% on the previous year’s inspection figures.  That was when the overall figures were taken into account.  Alarmingly, in Scotland the reduction was a massive 55.7%, something that should be worrying all of us who work in the construction sector.

According to Brian Nye, Acting General Secretary of UCATT, the prospect of an unexpected knock on the door by a construction inspector is what keeps many employers on their toes when it comes to health and safety practices.  If employers are under the impression that their safety procedures are not going to be checked, corners will be cut and a general slackness with regard to health and safety procedures will creep in resulting in workers paying for this in the shape of accidents, injuries and even fatalities.

Here in the UK, we have stringent health and safety regulations that make Britain one of the safest countries in the world in which to work in the construction sector.  Ours is still the most dangerous industry in the UK with 35 construction workers suffering fatal injuries in 2014 – 2015.  This is despite the fact that statistics clearly show a consistent reduction in accidents and injuries of all types (including fatal injuries) year on year.  There is no room for complacency here – strict legislation coupled with stringent enforcement is what has led to this reduction in accidents and we need the drop in accident rates to continue.  

Without the fear of an unexpected inspection, the reduction in accidents may not continue and UCATT is determined that the HSE needs to explain why the inspections seem to be less frequent than they used to be.  Whether it’s due to budget cuts or specific policies, we need to get to the truth behind this fall in inspections.

While all of the countries in the European Union follow health and safety regulations created in Brussels that apply to the whole of the EU, not all countries adhere to these rules.  The rules are effective everywhere, but without enforcement the rules are often ignored.  In some Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, the rules are in place but there is no system of enforcement which leads to the rules being widely ignored, placing construction workers at risk on a regular basis.

Here at Safety Fabrications, we take health and safety very seriously indeed, after all, we produce safe access equipment for the construction industry and we’re dedicated to promoting safe working practices at all times.  We’ll be keeping an eye on this story as it develops in the coming weeks and bring you more news as we come across it.